Tag Archives: Friends

A quiet, but enjoyable Christmas

Happy Boxing Day, as they might say in the UK!

We had a simple and quiet Christmas here at Casa Poolman. I am about half way through a week-and-a-half long holiday break. Within the University System, we bunch several holidays in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day and close down the institute for a week. I added a couple of  vacation days to that run, so I will have off from the Saturday before Christmas through New Year’s Day. I love it.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Poolman is not so lucky. This was the year she was scheduled to work 12-hour shifts both Christmas Eve and Christmas. It stinks, but what can you do?

I spent the first half of Tuesday putzin’ around and taking care of last-minute Christmas preps. My CCD class provided the readers for a short Christmas Pageant during the 4 o’clock Mass. Everyone we were expecting showed up, and more-or-less on time. Yea! Last year, we had one child who missed all but one practice, but we agreed to let him participate after his mother called up and practically begged us to do so. Then “mom” failed to deliver him on time. We rearranged the readers to cover his slot, but he came running up just as we were walking into church for the start of Mass. I don’t blame the child, but the mom taught us a lesson we won’t forget.

No such drama this year. Our students all did great. After constant encouragement, they all read loud enough that the congregation could actually here them. Yea again!

Our reader team.

Our reader team.

Mrs. P got home around 8 o’clock and we split a pizza for dinner. Very fancy.

On Christmas morning, I got up and drove about 45 minutes out in the country to my daughter’s in-laws. Brad and Annie are great. It was very nice of them to invite me out for Christmas brunch. Writer Princess is very lucky (and so are we) that she has such a great set of in-laws. They a house on several acres out in the boonies. Annie has taken to raising livestock. She has turkeys, chickens, “runner ducks,” guinea fowl and goats. The highlight of yesterday’s visit were two week-old baby goats.  Very cute!

"Well, Tom. We made it through another holiday. Whew!

“Well, Tom. We made it through another holiday. Whew!”

Inquisitive goat.

“So what did you get for me?”

Back home in the early afternoon and started preps for dinner. I planned on a boneless rib-eye roast, twice-baked potatoes, green bean bundles and creamed pearl onions (Mrs. P’s creation ahead of time.) Everything went well, even the green-bean bundles, which were a little more effort than I originally planned.

Mrs. P got home around 7:30 pm and I handed her a vodka and tonic. The rest of our dinner guests included son, girlfriend, daughter, son-in-law, and son-in-law’s brother. I planned to take a picture of the meal, but, frankly, I was so wrapped up in getting it all together when it was time to serve, I just forgot.

Some friends/neighbors walked down as we were finishing dinner. We all gathered in the family room to open presents and visit.

Gathered around

Gathered around

...visiting.

…visiting.

I wish Mrs. P had been around for more of the activities, but given the circumstances, it was a pretty nice holiday.

Runaway baby Jesus

My 5th grade CCD class has been busy since the Thanksgiving break preparing for our Christmas pageant. My class provides the readers for a fairly simple production. They read the Christmas story, while the third grade class acts out the drama, dressed as Mary, Joseph, shepherds, and so on. We have had three practices, and so far, while it won’t be a Broadway production, it won’t be a fiasco either. But it did come close.

Initially, one of the co-teachers volunteered her one-year old son to play the role of the baby Jesus. This was not a great idea. Young Brady was entirely too much into crawling and pulling himself up on anything that was handy. One of the third-graders (who is playing Mary) is disabled and has a motorized wheelchair. Brady pulled himself up onto the front of the chair and grabbed onto the control knobs. The chair took off with Brady hanging on for dear life.

It was very exciting.

For about five feet.

Until they ran into a pew.

Fortunately Brady was not hurt, which is what made the incident hilarious. In any case, the child has been cut from the pageant team in favor of a younger, more docile child. I think Brady was disappointed. If he could talk, I think he wanted to say, “That was fun!  Let’s do it again.”

The fifth grade reader team.

The fifth grade reader team.

The big show will be at 4 pm Mass on Christmas Eve. Looking forward to it.

While we are on a Christmas theme, our friends Sam and Beth stopped by the other day with our “adopted grandchildren” Helen and Brittany. Mrs. Poolman and I got them each an animal-theme throw-blanket. One was a frog and the other a monkey. Too cute!

The monkey and frog.

The monkey and frog.

Playing tourist here at home

We had a fun time last weekend. My sister, Maggie and her next door neighbors, Mac and Candy drove down from Greenville, S.C. for a “history weekend.” Maggie’s husband has taken a new job in New England, so he was out of the picture for this trip.

My sister is very lucky that she has just great friends living right next door to her. Over the years, we have gotten to know Mac and Cindy fairly well. At one point a few years ago, Mac and I were comparing notes and we discovered we had very similar interests in Civil War and World War II history.

Cindy joined my friends and me on our tour of the Louvre during our first trip to Paris in March 2012.

 And the whole gang of us piled into the car for a history trip to Gettysburg in 2010.

We have been talking about doing a “history weekend” here in Savannah for several years. I’m glad we were able to finally pull it off.

We started with a tour of the National Museum of the Eighth Air Force. This is a cool museum with a focus on the WWII air war over Europe.

Mac and me at the 8th Air Force Museum.

Mac and me at the 8th Air Force Museum.

On Saturday, we did a walking tour of downtown Savannah. I played tour guide, and although I’m not as professional as the experts, everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Maggie, Mrs. P and Cindy waiting for the guys to get back to them.

Maggie, Mrs. P and Cindy waiting for the guys to get back to them.

Myself, Mrs. Poolman and sister Maggie at Colonial Cemetary.

Myself, Mrs. Poolman and sister Maggie at Colonial Cemetary.

After a seafood lunch at Tubby’s on River Street, we dropped Mrs. P and Maggie off at our house. Mac, Cindy and I headed out towards the beach and Fort Pulaski. The fort is run by the National Park Service. They do a great job. We stayed only a fairly short time, since it was late and the weather was starting to look ugly, but it seemed like our guests really enjoyed it.

Mac and Cindy at Ft. Pulasi

Mac and Cindy at Ft. Pulasi

We finished the weekend off with a low country boil at our house. I think everyone had a good time. If they did not, they sure faked it well. We need to start planning our next “history weekend.” Charleston, anyone?

Things that go ‘beep’ at lunch

I saw on Facebook today that one of my good friends finally broke down and got hearing aids. I have used hearing aids myself since roughly 1990. I am on my fourth pair at this point. It is ironic that Len joined the hearing aid club, because he was with me and witnessed one of the more amusing incidents in my hearing aid experience.Hearing aids

Sometime in the early 2000s, I upgraded to the third of my eventual four sets of hearing aids. Unlike my previous two sets, this pair had a warning tone that would go off when the battery was almost dead. My hearing aid specialist had warned me of this. I noted it and then didn’t think about it again…for about a week. I was sitting in a Mexican restaurant having lunch with Len when my first set of hearing aid batteries started to die. The warning sounded exactly like the beep a commercial truck sounds when it goes into reverse. Of course, the wearer can hear it, but no one else can.

When the “beep” went off, I immediately started looking around for the garbage truck that was about to run me down. No surprise – no truck in the restaurant. I didn’t say anything, but Len was looking at me like I had just had a stroke. We went back to eating, when the “beep” sounded again. I asked Len if he had heard it. Of course, he hadn’t and was beginning to think I really had lost my mind. A moment later, one of my hearing aids shut down as the battery died. I finally put two and two together and realized the source of the beeping that apparently only I could hear.

Len was relieved. As an attorney, he was already thinking of what legal steps he could take to protect me from myself. (Think – guys in white jackets.)

So now it’s Len’s turn to learn the ins and outs of hearing aids. Just watch out for those garbage trucks, Len!

Another reason to be happy…

…I’m a guy.

Showers.

Of course, I’m not talking about the kind where you stand under streaming water to get clean. I’m all in favor of those. I’m talking about bridal showers, baby showers, and any other kind of showers that are little more than shake-downs, cleverly disguised as social events.

Mrs. Poolman and I were looking over our calendars for the next month or two to see what is coming up. Mrs. P noted that on one weekend later this month, she has a baby shower on one day and a bridal shower on the other.  I am SO glad neither of the hostesses was crazy enough to declare one of the events a “couples shower.” I hope I don’t give anyone an idea.

I understand the concept behind the showers. In theory, a group of the bride’s/new mother’s friends get together to “shower” the recipient with gifts to help them get started with their new married life or parenthood. Great idea. Keep it to the friends and immediate family who really want to help, and I’m all for it. What happens however, in an effort to increase the mass of presents, the guest lists extends out another generation to include the friends-of-family, etc. Attached to that invitation is an implied social obligation to pony up a gift and attend, whether you want to or not. Saying “no” is not an option. (“You know, when our daughter gets/got married…”)

In the case of the upcoming bridal shower, Mrs. P was invited because the groom’s mother is a long-time co-worker. I’m not sure Mrs. P would recognize the bride if she bit her on the leg.

The family organizing the baby shower doubled down on the misery. It seems the honoree and her sister had the poor timing to get knocked up with their first child within a few days of each other. (Must have been a heck of a weekend!) So the family decided to have a double baby shower.

That is an insidious little trick. At face value, it looks like a great idea. The more the merrier, right? But think about it for a moment. While family members obviously have connections to both mothers-to-be, many of the friends may be close (or maybe not really even that close) to only one of the guests of honor. Even so, they are now arm-twisted by a social obligation to purchase gifts for both of them.  (“The shower is for both sisters. I CANNOT show up with only one present.”) Nice trick.

I had an idea for Mrs. P to reduce her invitations to future showers, at least the bridal showers anyway. One of her good friend’s, daughter’s, partner (It’s complicated, sorry.) manages a sex-toy shop. I suggested she shop there for the bridal shower gift — the larger and more inappropriate, the better.

Her gift would certainly be remembered, and maybe even appreciated. You certainly can’t say the same thing about that off-brand chafing dish, or a cutting board. Plus, the word would get out and she would probably receive significantly fewer invitations to future showers.

Two birds with one stone.

Although Mrs. P laughed at my idea, she rejected it quickly. (In her defense, I think she really enjoys these girl-parties. These opinions are my own.)

“I can’t do that!”

“Why not?”

“Showers – they are part of the girl code.”

And that’s one more reason…

One more reason I’m glad I’m a guy

Men reasonsI ran across this poster, and it reminded me of one more reason, #87, why I’m glad I’m a guy.

Sales “Parties”

If you are a girl, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you are a guy, I strongly suspect you have never even been close to one. I guess they started with Tupperware back in the 50s or 60s, but it seems in recent years they have multiplied. Here is the way it works.

1.) Woman takes on a job selling a product with other women as the target customer group.

2.) Saleswoman approaches friend or co-worker and asks if she would hostess a “party” and invite some of HER friends. The purpose of the party is to provide Saleswoman with a captive audience to hock her wares. Not really wanting to produce a party, but not wanting to disappoint a friend, the Hostess agrees.

3.) Hostess then spends some of her “social capital” inviting her friends to a “party” at her house. Hostess typically provides drinks and snacks, or more.

4.) The friends/guests frequently accept, even though they have no desire to attend the pseudo-party, because they, in turn, don’t want to their friend/hostess to look bad. The implied understanding is that the Guests have a social obligation to purchase something from the Saleswoman.

Mrs. Poolman attended one such “party” last week. In this case, the product was handbags. Mrs. P came away $55 poorer, but with a handbag, to be delivered at some future date. I don’t know whether she needed the handbag or not. That wasn’t the point. She bought the bag because she attended the party, and she only attended the party, because she didn’t want to disappoint her friend, Carla. Carla wasn’t the hostess. The party was being hosted by her daughter’s partner’s mother and sisters on behalf of some cousin. Do you see how the web grows?

One of our friends here in the neighborhood, Louanne, was a real sucker for any “Saleswoman” who called on her. For a while there, it seemed like Louanne was calling every couple of weeks or so to invite Mrs. P to a party where she could/should/would buy lingerie, perfume, jewelry or candles. (The thought of giving up a Saturday afternoon during football season to go listen to someone try to sell me scented candles would drive me to socially unacceptable behavior.) At least one party she hosted was for a line of “marital aids” which was interesting. I would have gone to that one myself, but no guys were invited. Louanne finally shut down her run of parties after the other women in the neighborhood politely told her that were considering not answering the phone when her number showed up on caller ID.

Maybe I’m being too harsh. Perhaps I should call up my friend Matt the Welder and ask him to come over to learn more about scented candles. “Oh, and be sure to bring your checkbook.” I think I seen an intervention in my future.

Mid-summer holiday party

I’m totally time-warped this week. The internal clock was thrown off Monday night, when Mrs. Poolman and I spent the night at our church as “hosts” to a couple of homeless families. This is a regular ministry of our parish, and Mrs. P and I usually volunteer to handle the overnight shift. Not a big deal, but it certainly throws the internal clock off.

Yesterday was the 4th of July, and now I’m back at work for a single day, which feels like a Monday, except it’s actually a Friday. Huh?

Mrs. P and I hosted a holiday pool and barbecue party yesterday. We had several more people than we anticipated, and four more dogs. Individually, the dogs were not a problem. But when you add four new dogs to our pack of two, the result is a lot doggies running around.

Water and beer on the Fourth of July. A bit of a cliche?

Water and beer on the Fourth of July. A bit of a cliche?

July 4 2w

Even the dogs got into the action. This was this particular lab’s first time swimming.

I grilled burgers and brats; Son-in-Law provided spare ribs and another friend cooked up some wings. Everyone else brought some side dish or another.  It must have been a good party. We started at 2 pm and had to chase people out at 10:30 pm. It was a work-night after all.

Both our children typically invite some of their friends to our parties, which we encourage.  One couple of the younger generation, Ronnie and Kate, came yesterday with their now-six and a half month old Tommy. We have spent some time with Tommy in the past, and actually were the first non-family members to baby-sit him. Yesterday, he was his usual cute, good-natured self and was totally entertaining.

Mr. Personlity

Mr. Personality

I don’t know what we are going to be up to this weekend, but I think we are partied-out, at least for parties at our house anyway.

A great week continues

This working out to be a very good week.

Poolboy and Girlfriend finally made it down full time on Monday afternoon. And Monday turned out to be a truly lazy day. I got up at a decent hour and then Mrs. Poolman, Writer Princess, Son-in-Law and I enjoyed a sinful late morning breakfast at a local place called, appropriately enough, The Breakfast Club. This restaurant specializes in serving enormous plates of unhealthy, but delicious, breakfast food. For example, I had a three-egg scramble with chorizo, mushrooms, jalapenos and onions served over a pile of grits. Mrs. P had a dish of grated hash brown potatoes, cooked with onions, peppers, and bacon, with a little cream cheese folded in. The serving covered the entire dinner plate. I couldn’t eat this way every day. My arteries couldn’t take it. But once in a while…on vacation…

Ran a couple of errands on the island and then took a nice afternoon nap. Sigh. It clouded up and got windy late in the afternoon. Some of our group hung out on the beach anyway.

Even a  cloudy day at the beach beats a sunny day behind a desk.

Even a cloudy day at the beach beats a sunny day behind a desk.

We had several of our friends from “down the beach” here for drinks and appetizers that evolved into a full-evening social event.

Today, SIL, Poolboy, Girlfriend and I went on a kayak eco-tour.

Beach13 Tue2w

Getting ready to push off on the great adventure.

Beach13 Tue3w

Resting up and re-hydrating on our mid-tour beach break.

It was fun, but not quite what we expected.  A lot of fairly open-water paddling with a fairly strong wind pushing us around. We did have some nice beach time and saw a few interesting sights, like osprey diving and feeding, and a small bonnet head shark feeding along the shoreline. By the end of our trip, we were pooped. I may not be able to move tomorrow.

Another afternoon nap (I could get used this.) and then we all went out to the North Beach Grill for dinner. This locally-famous restaurant is really just a beach shack with some outdoor seating on a deck.

Our group at the North Beach Grill.

Our group at the North Beach Grill.

The kitchen was slow, but the food was good. I had a jerk chicken sandwich and home-cut fries. Mrs. P and several of the rest of our group had the half-pound of shrimp, saute’d in a jerk seasoning. It was very good. I think we are going to try to duplicate it at home.

Saute'd shrimp in jerk seasoning.

Saute’d shrimp in jerk seasoning.

I think we are all pretty tired tonight. I don’t see a party night in the offing.

Another St. Patrick’s Day behind us

It’s Sunday evening of the actual St Patrick’s Day. We’ve had a good run, but Mrs. Poolman and I are a little pooped out.

For the uninitiated, St Patrick’s Day is to Savannah as Mardi Gras is to New Orleans. For the past 11 years, we have staked out a plot in one of the downtown squares and set up a “tailgate party.” The parade comes by, but more importantly, we spend a day visiting with friends, family, and sometimes friends’ and family’s friends. It is very much like a traditional football tailgate party, except it starts early in the morning and ends around mid-afternoon. Sometimes we actually get to watch some of the parade, like the visiting Clydesdales.

Where is the cute little guy from the Super Bowl commercials?

Where is the cute little guy from the Super Bowl commercials?

This year was a bit of a test for us. Last year, we had crowd issues. A number of their friends invited a bunch of their friends. The result was too many people and too little space. As I mentioned to Mrs. P, “It was a lot of work to give a party for a bunch of people I don’t even know.” This year, we consciously made a serious effort at crowd control. Essentially our message was this– “If you want to bring a gang of your friends to our party, then come on down and join us at oh-dark-30, and claim a spot next to us. Not surprisingly, no one took us up on the offer.

This year, since the actual date of the holiday falls on a Sunday, the local parade and celebration is held on Saturday. We had a gang of our Jacksonville side of the family arrive Friday evening, but, for the most part, they had to fend for themselves. Mrs. P and I went to bed early to grab a few hours of sleep.

We were up at 1:30 am and downtown by 2:30 am. Joining us were our daughter (Writer Princes) and Son-in-Law (SIL). We were very surprised to see our target corner of Calhoun square was unoccupied when we arrived. Actually, the police don’t let you in the actual square until 6 am. But early arrivals, stake out their claims by placing chair and coolers around the edge and negotiating with competing groups. The local custom is “first-come, first-served.” By working with the other groups, you can avoid conflicts when the “land-rush” starts at 6 am.  We worked things out with our later-arriving neighbors, and actually “donated” some of our plot to a neighbor before the rush began. It worked out well. We worked together to stake out our plots rather than competing with each other.

The problem isn’t with the early arrivals. The issues arise with the people who show up a few minutes before the square is opened. They want to claim a prime spot and push out the groups who have been there for several hours. We have absolutely no sympathy for them.

So we ended with a nice piece of parade frontage and plenty of room to set up our canopies, food tables and chairs. Things went so well with our neighboring groups, that we exchanged contact information and plan to work together again next year. An alliance! What a radical thought! We’ll be the NATO of Calhoun Square.

Our square at 6:30am

Our square at 6:30am

The same spot in the late morning.

The same spot in the late morning.

The rest of the day was a nice, but busy party. Friends came by and visited. Others came and stayed. People brought food and their own drinks. Our age range spread from children to Social Security. Good time had by all. By around three in the afternoon, the “dawn patrol” packed up and headed back to the island.

After a debrief, we declared it a victory. The Poolman St Patrick’s Party will continue next year. Good time. Good weekend. Back to work tomorrow.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Here it is, 2013. Where did you go 2012?

Our weekend kicked off Friday night with a sleep over, not the fun kind. We participate in a homeless ministry at our church. Once of twice a year, the church provides overnight housing for a group of homeless families for a week at a time. They need couples to cook meals, be “evening hosts” and “overnight hosts.” Since we don’t have small children at home to worry about, Mrs. Poolman and I usually take one of the overnight assignments. It’s just a matter of going up to the parish center and spending the night sleeping on cots. It’s not a real hardship duty, and it apparently does some good. Our night was uneventful, except that Mrs. P hardly slept a wink. I rarely have such problems.

So Saturday was largely a wasted day. Mrs. P spent most of the day napping on the couch. I made some corn chowder and delivered it to our daughter and her husband who were sharing a case of the flu.

Trouble with the curve We rented a pretty good movie that evening – Trouble With the Curve (Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake.) It’s a story of an aging baseball scout whose attorney-daughter joins him on the road to help save his career and reputation. It was Clint being Clint and Amy Adams being her usual cute-self. Throw in a boy-meets-girl sub-plot with Timberlake and you have a fairly predictable, but still very enjoyable flick. Mrs. P went back to sleep before we were 20 minutes into the show, but I liked it anyway.

Lincoln-Movie-Poster-1536x2048_extra_bigOn Sunday, we hit another movie at the theater that we both really enjoyed. “Lincoln” with Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones was simply outstanding. I’m sorry we waited until it was almost at the end of its theater run before getting around to watching it. If you miss it in the theater, be sure to catch it on DVD or pay-per-view. The movie is not a comprehensive bio-pic of Old Abe. Rather, it focuses almost entirely on the single month of January 1865, when Lincoln lead a determined effort to convince the House of Representatives to pass the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery. At face value, that probably sounds boring to a non-history buff. However, the script is very well written, and the acting is outstanding. Watch for it to come up frequently when the awards season rolls around.

Mrs. P had to work both Monday and today, New Years Day. Unfortunately, they can’t send those babies home just for a holiday. Last night, some of our friends invited us to their house for dinner. We had a great time, but were back home by 10 pm so Mrs. P could hit bed in time for her 5 am wake-up. I’ve mostly watched football games today. So far the SEC is looking pretty good. Florida plays Louisville and long-tine, popular Gator assistant coach Charlie Strong tomorrow night. I’m back to work tomorrow. It’s been a good break. I may need it. Right now,  January and February look like they will be rocking.